By looking at the numbers, you’d never know that Facebook is in some of the hottest water it’s felt in its history. The company released its third quarter financial results amid blowback from two waves of highly negative news coverage based on internal documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Facebook reported revenue of $29.01 billion, which was slightly lower than analyst expectations. But earnings came in above analyst expectations at $3.22 per share. Its shares bounced up 3% on the news.
Analysts and investors had been concerned that Facebook’s results would be depressed by Apple’s move to allow users of iOS devices to opt out of in-app ad tracking (Ad Tracking Transparency), allowing them to block the techniques that interactive advertising platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Snap use to target ads and measure their performance. Snap’s stock took a 25% haircut after the company reported disappointing results and stated that Apple’s change earlier this year as the main cause.
Facebook also felt the effects, but not as severely, and was not punished by its investors. COO Sheryl Sandberg said during an earnings call that her company would have seen its ad business grow from the second quarter to the third had it not been for Apple’s tracking crackdown. She added that Facebook has already begun building tools to help it target and measure ads without the help of device identification it once received from all iOS devices.
The company said it expects fourth-quarter revenue of $31.5 billion to $34 billion.
Facebook is still bracing for the blowback from a second wave of negative news stories stemming from the documents leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. This follows The Wall Street Journal‘s original wave of stories in its “Facebook Files” series. Intense Congressional scrutiny has resulted from the bombshell coverage.
And now a second whistleblower has emerged with an affidavit corroborating Haugen’s claims about the social networking giant. According to The Washington Post, the second (as-yet-unnamed) whistleblower claims that Facebook allowed illegal activity to persist on its platform, and echoes Haugen’s claim that the company “prizes growth and profit over combating hate speech, misinformation and other threats to the public.”
During the earnings call with analysts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sounded off defiantly about the leaks and media coverage. “What we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” he said.
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